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Spread of Heterobasidion annosum in Christmas Tree Plantations of the United States Pacific Northwest

May 2007 , Volume 97 , Number  5
Pages  551 - 556

N. L. Dart , G. A. Chastagner , and T. L. Peever

First and second authors: Department of Plant Pathology, Washington State University Research and Extension Center, Puyallup 98371-4998; and third author: Department of Plant Pathology, Washington State University, Pullman 99164-6430

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Accepted for publication 21 November 2006.

The population structure of Heterobasidion annosum in the Pacific Northwest (PNW) Christmas tree plantations was estimated at two spatial scales to assess the relative importance of primary and secondary infection, colonization, and spread of the pathogen. Ninety-three isolates from single trees in 27 discrete mortality pockets and 104 isolates from 12 individual root systems of noble and Fraser fir trees were sampled near Mossyrock, Washington. Isolates were genotyped using somatic compatibility assays and microsatellite markers to determine the spatial scale at which dispersal of single genotypes (genets) was occurring. All isolates sampled from different trees in discrete mortality pockets had distinct genotypes, whereas the root systems of single trees were dominated by one or two genotypes. These results suggest that infection of PNW Christmas trees results from frequent primary infection events of adjacent stumps and localized secondary spread within root systems rather than clonal spread of the pathogen between adjacent trees. We hypothesize that mortality pockets may be due to availability of infection courts and/or variation in inoculum levels during selective harvesting of patches of mature trees.

© 2007 The American Phytopathological Society